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Graduate Tips – Choosing the Right Boss

Just the thought of a boss is enough to send some of you cold. For let’s face it, it is something you have not had for the past three or four years. Well, you can hardly call your lecturers tough, can you? Most of them found it hard enough themselves to turn up to lectures on time and they were all fairly lenient and understanding about work extensions or at least gullible towards believing or accepting your excuses. So what type of boss are you looking for? Should you choose any old boss who will allow you to shine? Would it be better to choose someone of a similar age so that you can socialise together? Or how about choosing a good-looking boss, at least then your day would be enjoyable on one front? Or should you forget the boss thing and only concentrate on the job itself?


The first thing to remember is that the ‘Boss Issue’ is important. Good bosses make careers and bad bosses make people’s careers miserable. Remember too that there is no guarantee that the nice person you meet at the interview will turn out to be the boss you want to work for. People can sometimes say all the right things at the right times but then act later in completely different ways. So, in order for you to make a reasonable character assessment and an informed decision about whether you want to work for this person you need to be very clear about what you are looking for from the ‘boss’ relationship. Listed below are a few points to help you make the right decision. A good boss is:


  1. Someone you can relate to. You need to feel comfortable and at ease with your boss. The age of your boss is immaterial as long as you communicate well together. (Anyway for most graduates of 21/22, a person over the age of 30 is often classed as old) Ask the potential boss about his/her experiences to date and notice how comfortable the person is talking about himself or herself. For a ‘boss’ relationship to work, both parties need to be open and honest with each other.

  2. Someone who has a good track record. Your boss needs to be a mentor and a soundboard for you in terms of your career and career choices. So, choose someone whom you respect and feel can give you professional advice. Accept that you will need help in order to develop your career and potential and that you need to have as much support from your boss in order to do this. Your boss is a source of knowledge and experience so choose someone who is worthy and able to help you achieve your career vision.

  3. Someone who has a positive attitude. You will find it much more enjoyable and rewarding working for a positive person. So, check out your boss’s attitude by paying attention to your energy level in the interview. A positive person will make you feel energised and enthusiastic whereas a negative person will make you feel heavy and tired.

  4. Someone who wants to develop their team rather than grab everything for themselves. You need to work for someone who will develop your skills and capabilities. To understand how the person develops his/her team, ask questions about what roles previous graduates have gone on to take.

  5. Someone who can coach you. You will need to learn from your boss so choose someone who is able to coach and train you in ways which you feel comfortable with. Find out how your boss coaches his/her staff, what style of management he/she adopts and how much he/she is willing to delegate.

  6. Someone who knows how to have fun. You are entitled to have fun so choose someone who knows how to enjoy him/herself. Notice if the person offers any information about themselves as you talk about your outside pursuits and hobbies and if they don’t ask them directly what their interests are.

  7. Someone who will develop you beyond their career. Everyone is an individual and has different career aspirations and dreams. To get your message across always ensure that you express yourself in terms of what you want. Flexible bosses talk about what could be possible in terms of your experience and capabilities rather than telling you what you should be doing.


Remember if in doubt about a person a good final thing is to listen to your gut reaction. Gut reactions often turn out to be the correct answers. If this doesn’t help you then be bold and ask the person the question, ‘What type of boss are you?’ The answer given will be what you are looking for!


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BY: Sarah Berry

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